Agkistrodon Contortrix

S. Preston Duncan


In the afternoon
I killed
a copperhead.

full of

She was just there
like in the dream
beneath a shadow
something heavy
     on her back.

Her skin was gorgeous
       as an omen. 

I broke a cinder block
over her head.

While I skinned it
       I was sure
it would come back
      to bite me.

         at the gallery
the walls were full of snakes.

A woman I knew
danced on a
taking up serpents
smashing apples.

Their flesh was an allergy of glitter
like a cheap secret
that just spreads
after the skin

they sounded like bricks
in the garden 

she was aching with new tattoos

my hands were drowning when
I buried her head in the yard,
covered myself in smoke

some things you can’t wash off



S. Preston Duncan is a writer, caregiver, and BBQist in Richmond, Virginia, and is currently training as an End of Life Doula. A spiritual mutt (read: half Jewish, half Americana music), he is a denominational Antifascist Southern River Rat and devout pilgrim of coastal climes. Recent aspirations include becoming the Jason Isbell of literature, stealing death’s laughter, and transcendental pimento cheese. He is the former Senior Editor of local arts and culture publication RVA Magazine. His work has appeared in Bottom Shelf Whiskey and RVA Magazine (no, not while he was editor).